by Geoffrey Churchman
Although ‘sustainable’ has been a buzzword for at least two decades, in all the attention given to the challenges that the planet faces, little if any gets given to the question of whether population growth of individual countries and the world as a whole is sustainable. It seems that while it is fine to talk about increasing numbers of farm animals for food source and clothing as a problem, talking about an excessive number of people is taboo.
When I was 18 in 1975 coming up to my first opportunity to vote in a general election, I read all the main political party manifestos. The one which made the most impact then and since was one by the Values Party entitled Beyond Tomorrow which examined the issue of population growth, specifically. The manifesto had two prime literary motivators: Future Shock by Alvin Tofler from 1970 which argued the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaves people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”—future shocked; and Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher from 1973 which championed the concept of small, appropriate technologies that empower people more, in contrast to the notion of “bigger is better”. The most radical concept put forward, however, was zero population growth — not necessarily from what NZ’s population was then, but at the point the optimum is reached.
In 1975 the NZ population was a bit over 3 million, now it is close to 5 million. That must be about the optimum; if it’s not, then what is?
Ever more people means a need for more housing, more infrastructure and a bigger economy — and the downside of that: more gobbling up of recreational land, more energy consumption, more unwanted emissions (methane in particular) and more waste — all for the sake of growth.
Some developed countries now have negative growth of their ‘indigenous’ populations — Germany and Russia being two notable ones. But population growth in poor Third World countries continues to surge — and it cant continue! Globalist politicians like Jacinda & Co. think the answer to that is to let their populations migrate unchecked to First World countries — no it isn’t. Severe population control in those countries is.
by Roger Childs
“By trapping heat from the sun, greenhouse gases have kept Earth’s climate habitable for humans and millions of other species. But those gases are now out of balance and threaten to change drastically which living things can survive on this planet—and where.” –Christina Nunez, National Geographic, 13 May 2019
Hitting the streets
In one of the biggest demonstrations nationwide since the 1981 Springbok Tour, New Zealand students downed iPads, books and swat notes last Friday to demonstrate about climate change. But are they serious, or was it just a highly topical and convenient excuse for a day off school and university?
The National Coordinator was Kapiti Council candidate Sophie Handford, and she is deadly serious. Sophie was active in the environmental change movement three years ago, when as a Year 11 student she spoke at a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing on improving water quality. Since then she has become increasing involved in climate change activism. For her, the time for action is now. “This is the only home we have, we’re not going to be able to just buy a new one when we have destroyed this place to the point where we can’t bring future generations up on this planet,” she says.
But is it really happening?
Climate change has been a fact of life for the planet for tens of thousands of years. There have been cooler and warmer periods across the millennia and, back even further, ice ages which transformed the landscapes of North America, Europe, Northern Asia and New Zealand.
In recent decades there has been [it is alleged — Eds] a noticeable warming of the Earth as seen in rising sea levels, increased average temperatures, retreating glaciers and ice melting in the Arctic and Antarctic.
The increases in temperatures and sea levels have been small, but the recent trends since the late 20th century have been upwards. However, as seen with the shrinking of New Zealand’s glaciers such as the Tasman, Franz Josef and Fox – the melting has been dramatic over the last 40 years. Franz Josef has lost 800 metres in the last 11 years and this is mirrored in Northern American “ice rivers”. Around the North Pole the melting has also been dramatic [again, it is alleged —Eds].
“Arctic Sea ice is reducing by 13% per decade, a rate that is unprecedented in the last 1000 years.” –Journalist, Joel McManus The Dominion Post, 27 September 2019
Weather extremes – wind, waves and heat
Climatic extremes have been a vivid reminder of the changes taking place. Earlier this month, Hurricane Dorian actually reached Nova Scotia on Canada’s Atlantic Seaboard – the first time a storm of this magnitude has hit the province since 1996. Meanwhile inland Australia continues to swelter in its longest drought in recorded history. And in Central and Southern California over the last few years, unprecedented fires have raged across wide areas.
In New Zealand, coastlines are under pressure, and areas like the West Coast, Nelson, Dunedin, the southern coast of Hawke Bay and the Kapiti Coast have lost land to the sea. South of Raumati South, on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Park, the sand dunes have retreated more than 30 metres in 50 years.
Carbon in the atmosphere
Carbon dioxide (CO2), is an essential element for life on Earth and its presence in the atmosphere helps prevent the sun from frying everything on the surface. But too much leads to warmer average temperatures.
Areas such as wetlands and bogs are “carbon sinks” where the gas is “stored”. However, many wetlands in recent decades have been drained for urban expansion, infrastructure development and the spread of farming. In the Eurasian landmass the huge permafrost tundra areas are starting to melt. These massive peat bogs contain vast stores of methane and carbon dioxide which, if the warming trends continue, will be released into the atmosphere.
Measurements worldwide going back to the 1970s, including records kept in New Zealand, show that the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air is increasing, slowly. Carbon dioxide along with methane, nitrous oxide and others are collectively known as the “greenhouse gases”.
The IPOCC Report
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report was produced by 104 experts from 36 countries. It backs up the comments made above. Three of its key findings are that:
there is a well established trend of more carbon dioxide in the air. This is slowly heating the oceans, changing ecosystems and raising sea levels.
on-going ice sheet melting in the Arctic and Antarctic is continuing to result in rises in sea levels.
the Eurasian permafrost is melting and releasing more carbon dioxide into the air.
A well-organised conspiracy?
There are plenty of climate change (CC) skeptics out there, many from coal and oil companies and countries rich in fossil fuels, led by Donald Trump. They see the CC movement, from Al Gore’s 2006 An Inconvenient Truth movie, through International CC conferences to the recent action of Swedish teenage, Greta Thunberg, admonishing the world’s governments at the United Nations this week, as political grand-standing.
Some scientists claim that the data has been exaggerated and that any recent warming is just a blip in long term climatic and weather patterns. To see 197 claims from sceptics and the scientific responses go to https://skepticalscience.com/argument.php
The reality is that climate change is happening, slowly, and the planet is
definitely warming up. It is not a dramatic process, but the trends of rising seas,
increased average temperatures, melting ice and increasing C02 in the air are indisputable.